Off to the Tunnel!

Saturday was a day off for the work party and after a little morning mist, it turned in a beautiful hot sunny day. Pete and I took seven of the work party over to the Tunnel. 

 

When we got there, sadly we couldn’t go in as there has been a roof collapse over the winter. Instead we sat by the edge looking through, providing entertainment for the local seal, who decided we were so interesting that she would pop out to visit us!

 

 

Walking up Gleann Mor we found both of the wells and investigated the Amazon House remains, before the long slog up and out of Gleann Mor.

 

The afternoon was spent relaxing on the street, swimming in the bay, and getting ready for entertaining Pete, Craig and Ciaran for our Indian night at Number One. We had the most amazing desert of Kulfi ice-cream, made with almonds and pistachios, served with mango and chocolate.

 

 

Drainage is fascinating

It was our last full working day on Friday and the day was busy with drain unblocking, continuing painting the Manse, painting the roof on House Two, and drystone dyking. Mid morning, we got the call that the snowy owl from the previous week was was in Village Bay, and it was all tools down and up to Head Dyke to catch a view of her. 

 

 

One of our jobs was to repair the door to Lady Grange’s cleit. Phil and Bruce proudly completed this task and even tested it by locking the work party leader inside! Luckily they came back to open the door!

 

 

In all we cleared eight of our work party tasks. We felt we deserved our fabulous dinner of Chinese style pork, followed by a walk along the street and a drink in the Puff Inn. 

 

Update from Work Party One – 24/05/2018

We awoke this morning to the arrival of the Silver Cloud sitting in Village Bay. Apart from the three volunteers to run the shop and the postcard store in the church, (Diane, Bee and Frances) the rest of the work party had a day off.

 

Bruce and Phil were up and out after breakfast to walk to The Cambir.

 

 

The rest of the work party planned walks, but were slightly scuppered by the mist coming down late morning over the top of the island. 

 

By late afternoon the cruise ship and day boats (and the mist) had gone leaving us to enjoy the island’s peace again. Bruce and Malcolm went for a swim in the bay. Bruce was slightly more prepared for this than Malcolm! (You can guess who is who!).

 

 

Pete joined us for dinner in House number one, we are certainly eating well! Ciaran came up with the results of the litter pick from yesterday. We picked up 775 items, total weight 47.76kg, compared with the last recorded litter pick from 2016, where there was 446 items, weighing 58.7kg.

 

 

A flurry of postcard writing was done this evening, ready to go off in the helicopter tomorrow.

Beach Clean and around the islands

It was another beautiful day on St Kilda, we have been so lucky with the weather! Today was the Litter Pick on the beach with Ciaran the seabird ranger. There is a method all lined up for the work we had to do. All the litter collected is sorted, catalogued and weighed. The Marine Conservation Society use the St Kilda litter pick as a base line for other litter picks in the UK, as we are considered one of the beaches least likely to have litter. All wood is logged too.

 

 

The highlight of the day though, was the arrival of Kilda Cruises boat with David and Malcolm. It was planned for a trip around the St Kilda archipelago, not something that happens when you visit the island on a day boat. Craig and Ciaran joined us for the trip and it was amazing to see the island, it’s caves and cliffs from a different perspective! We saw sheep on Soay, and the seabirds nesting on the cliffs. 

 

 

Tonight we were told that the island was on Amber alert for a water shortage, and no rain is expected for a week. We put in place water rations on shower times, and all of us are mindful to use less water where possible. With the construction work being carried out on the island, there is a lot of additional people on the island to usual.

 

We had another fabulous meal from Hammie and after dinner, we headed down to the school room and the Manse to prepare for tomorrow’s visiting cruise ship which is bringing 300 passengers to the island. We then went for a drink at the Puff Inn.

 

Farewells and Welcomes

Tuesday – half way through our work party and we found ourselves waving off Ellie and the rest of the Puffin counters on Kilda Cruises boat Hirta, as they travel back to Harris. We also said farewell to our Ranger John, who is off to the Arctic for the next four weeks. We welcomed Pete on to the island, who will be looking after us along with Craig and Ciaran for the remainder of our stay.

Above pictured, from left to right, Craig – NTS Archaeologist, John – Ranger and Ciaran – Seabird Ranger

Over the last two days we have been very lucky with some beautiful sunny weather. We have managed to get on with lots of our outside tasks including cleit turf roof repairs, painting around the Factors House and the Manse, door repairs, painting the roof of houses One and Two, along with running the St Kilda Club Shop in the Manse.

We found time for walks in the evening, including up to the Gap and the top of Conachair to enjoy the fabulous views over to Boreray and the rest of the island.

 On Monday we had some excitement when unfortunately a man from one of the day boats broke his leg at the top of The Gap. The Coast Guard had to come and ‘medivac’ him from the top of The Gap to Stornaway. Usually the Coast Guard comes out about twice a year – we have seen them twice since we have been here! 

Royal Wedding Celebration on St Kilda

Hammie and I were up before the rest of the work party on Saturday to decorate House Number One for the Royal Wedding. We may have got a bit carried away with the Harry and Meghan bunting…

 

The work party embraced the spirit of the occasion, and Hammie organised American pancakes for breakfast. As the weather wasn’t the best we worked in the morning, doing general maintenance, tidying the workshop and rubbing down window shutters.

 

Afternoon entertainment came from Ellie working with the National Trust of Scotland, who had been camping on Dun counting the puffins. She gave a fascinating talk about tracking puffins and seabirds and the research being carried out to find out the causes of any decline and what can be done to improve the situation.

 

We had invited John, Ciaran and Craig as guests to our Royal Wedding Party. We started the evening with toasting our own version of the royal couple! We then enjoyed poached salmon for our main, with a fabulous pavlova topped with passion fruit, grapes, kiwi and gold dusted chocolate truffles for dessert! A meal fit for the queen!

Were we the most westerly Royal Wedding party in the United Kingdom?

 

 

Clearing watercourses in the sunshine

It’s hard to believe we have been on the island less than 24 hours – the sun is still shining! We started Thursday morning with a tour of Village Bay with Craig, the NTS archaeologist then straight on to clearing watercourses starting down by the Featherstore and working our way up to just past House Seven by the end of the day.

There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the finished result of your work, and a thumbs up all round from the work party after unblocking a watercourse which had been causing the path to flood!

 While the majority of the work party worked on watercourses, Phil, our newly appointed / fell into the role of handyman is fixing door handles, locks, taps and generally working out what lives where.  Diane, Helen and Lucy learnt how to run the St Kilda Club Shop with the help of John, ready to greet and serve the day boat passengers.

 

After a delicious dinner, we headed down to the Puff Inn for quiz night, with Bee and Lucy on the winning team at the end of the evening.

 

Friday morning started off damp and misty. The work party split into two groups, with Bruce, Frances and Malcolm joining Craig to learn how to turf a cleit on the edge of the village area. Wet weather plans were put into action for the rest of the group, with them rubbing down paintwork on the Factors House and the Manse ready for painting.

Turfing went well, and Cleit 111 soon looked as good as the original photographs! 

All this fresh air and work makes for a very tired work party and we’re all ready for bed by 10.30!

We made it! Work Party One 2018

We awoke to beautiful sunshine in Leverburgh. We were quickly up, out and loaded then off in the Kilda Cruises boat, Hirta with David and Malcolm by 7.30am.

 

Three hours later we arrived at Village Bay, and a busy morning was had, with Orca, Kilda Cruises other boat right behind us – a cruise ship sitting waiting to bring passengers ashore and the landing craft unloading.

 

Craig, the St Kilda archaeologist with the National Trust of Scotland (NTS), and John the NTS ranger were on the pier to greet us, along with the welcome sight of a JCB from QinetiQ to help transport our luggage and all the food as close to the houses as possible. 

 

 A busy couple of hours ensued with the priority to get all the food up to House One, using wheelbarrows and human power! Somehow with all the unloading, sorting through and organising the food Hammie, our fabulous cook for the next two weeks conjured up delicious soup, homemade cheese scones and fruit cake for lunch.

 

As the work party settled in to their new home for the next two weeks, we organised kitchen rota’s and looked at the work to do over the coming fortnight.

 

Late afternoon, we walked out as a group to Ruaival to the Mistress Stone with cameras and binoculars at the ready for lambs, seabirds and other wildlife.

 

We finished the day off with a fabulous meal from Hammie, and a talk from Craig, John and the seabird ranger, Ciaran.

 

It’s hard to believe that we have only been on the island 12 hours, so much has happened and it’s only just begun! Work starts tomorrow…

 

The day before St Kilda

 

As the mist and rain fell on Leverburgh on Tuesday morning we wondered if the moment we had all been waiting for would be delayed…

By 3pm in the afternoon the mist had cleared and the weather conditions were looking exceptionally good as eight of the work party gathered in the Am Bothan Bunkhouse ready for the Wednesday morning departure to St Kilda for the first Work Party of 2018.

The weather just got better and better as the evening went on, and by 7.30 we were looking at a 7am start to help load the food and bags onto the “Hirta” in the morning.

With all the work party now in Leverburgh, we gathered at The Anchorage for our evening meal, risk assessment talk and for the initial bonding of the work party. Phil won the golden star (and bag of sweets) for fully reading all of the risk assessment forms in advance!

 

Next update will be from St Kilda!

St Kilda – The Silent Islands

St Kilda in a new light: a visual poem to the islands at the edge of the world Photographer Alex Boyd captures the lesser known side of the enigmatic islands of St Kilda in a new photography
book.
Using a ‘battered medium format camera’ that once belonged to landscape photographer Fay Godwin, Alex balances the well documented beauty of the islands with a new, modern perspective on the military presence on the island that is lacking in exposure.
The stunningly haunting images of the military roads, installations and the remains of conflict show the complex relationship between the Ministry of Defence and the National Trust to help preserve this UNESCO World Heritage site.
‘A visual poem rather than a guide’, St Kilda: The Silent Islands offers an insight into the communities living and working on St Kilda today.
Special Offer

As a thank you to those who have supported my work, I’d like to offer a discount on the purchase of the book and print bundle. Bought separately the book and print would cost £60, however as a limited offer they are available to pre-order on my website for £40.

For a limited time however you can take advantage of a £5 off voucher which will be available until the book launches at the end of April, making the book + print offer only £35 + postage.

The print ‘Borerary from Hirta’ is limited to an edition of 100, with an image size of 6×6 inches, signed, and presented on Hahnemühle archival paper. Use the discount code BORERAY10 in the checkout for this special deal.

The link for the book:
The print deal: